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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  September 20, 2010 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> ifill: good evening. i'm gwen ifill. afghan authorities said today it was too early to judge the outcome or the legitimacy of this weekend's parliamentary elections. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. on the newshour tonight, election observer scott worden in kabul has the details about reports of widespread fraud at the polls. >> ifill: then we talk with admiral thad allen about the permanent sealing of the blown out oil well in the gulf of mexico. >> brown: margaret warner runs a debate on whether the f.d.a. should allow the sale of genetically modified salmon for human consumption. >> ifill: judy woodruff looks at the political power of sarah palin, with reporters libby casey of alaska public radio and jeff zeleny of the "new york times."
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anybody spots new tennis shoes the headline is going to be, vanity fair, they're going to say palin in iowa decides to run. >> brown: and ray suarez talks with angela kocherga of belo television on the latest killing of a journalist in the mexican drug wars. >> ifill: that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> ifill: the low, slow vote count was under way in afghanistan today as the country
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selected a new parliament. saturday's election was marked by uneven turnout, taliban attacks, and widespread claims >> there may be no better example of how dangerous it can be to hold an election in a war zone that occurred during this interview with an afghan provincial governor on saturday. >> with the voting is going very well in different districts and in the city. >> reporter: that blast in the background hit a polling station nearby, wounding three people. all told attacks killed more than 20 civilians an nine police on saturday. after casting his own vote president hamid karzai urged fellow afghans to follow his lead despite the risks. >> they should by voting to the country's candidates for parliament, take the country many steps forward into-- forward into a better future. >> reporter: turn out at around 4 million was significantly lighter than if last year's presidential vote. and it may have been the
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lowest of the four elections held since u.s. forces ousted the taliban in 2001. there were also allegations of rampant fraud. >> we have seen ballot stuffing, proxy vote, underage voting, and also multiple voting. the most serious one is the ballot stuffing. our observers have observed in more than-- in around 280 centers in 28 provinces where the ballot stuffing did occur. >> reporter: afghanistan's leading election observation group called today for an independent investigation. also today president karzai spokesmen agreed that the fraud allegations warranted a second look. >> like any other election anywhere in the world this there are complaints there have been irregularities. but we are waiting for the respective organizations to investigate these complaints. and they should be the source of information to the afghan people about the existence of irregularities or fraud. >> reporter: at the same
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time, the afghan electoral commission criticized observer groups for being too quick to imply the election was tainted. still former foreign minister abdullah abdullah said wide spread fraud would undermine the legitimacy of the new parliament. >> if as a result of massive fraud, it turned out to be a reb are el parliament in the hands of the government, then we are lose that opportunity for checks and balances which is expected from the parliament. >> reporter: abdullah was the principal victim of fraud in the 2009 presidential election. he lost to president karzai. more than a million fraudulent votes were cast and karzai was only declared the winner once abdullah withdrew from a runoff. u.s. officials condemned the fraud in the 2009 election after the latest vote they are waiting for results while commending afghans for their perseverence. >> we believe the afghan people can be proud that millions of their citizens, courageous men and women went to the polls, exercised
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their democratic right to vote despite repeated threats an intimidation by the taliban. >> reporter: the results of saturday's balloting will not be known for weeks. in all more than 2500 candidates vie for 249 seats in the afghan parliament. >> for for more on how these latest elections unfolded, i spoke earlier today with scott worden in kabul. he was there as an election observer for the national democratic institute. in last year's presidential voting, he served on the electoral complaints commission. scott worden, thank you for joining us. tell us what you saw this weekend during the voting. >> well, i was stationed in kabul as an observer. and i visited about ten different stations throughout the city, some in more rural areas, some right in the heart of town. and in the polling stations that i saw, there were relatively few problems. there were plenty of voters. the procedures went along smoothly. and really people were out to vote and were-- seemed to
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be happy with the process. >> ifill: so how was the turnout. i heard reports that turnout was supposed to be considered spotty. >> yes, i think that's true. certainly the areas that i was seeing had good security. they were right around kabul and there were very visible police presence around the city. so it is not surprising that the turnout was relatively good. i think most of the polling stations we saw were at least half full. however, as you know, the security situation in much of the country throughout the country was a lot worse. and that had a significant impact on turnout. and i think that turnout can be expected to be very low in places that had a lot of conflict. >> ifill: you talk about the security situation. there were reports of many people killed in different places around the country. did you hear back from the people you talked to today that that was what was expected or was it more than expected or less. >> well, everybody was a bit apprehensive about what polling day would bring in terms of security. last year there was a huge amount of violence it was the most violent day in afghanistan since
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2001 intervention. the hope was, of course, that this would be better. there was better planning for security and hopefully the local races with local political players being elected would have a positive impact on reducing the violence. unfortunately from the reports that have come insofar, it seems like there was about the same level of violence this year if not a little bit more. so it is a disappointment for people given the negative trends of securities over the course of the year thought could happen. >> but at least a million fewer voters, at least they were saying 3.6 million voters this time and it was 5.5 million voters last year. >> yeah, it's always difficult to calculate voters in afghanistan. because of course last year while there was a high initial count, there was a significant amount of fraud. an millions of ballots, about 1.2 million ballots were ultimately excluded from the presidential election. so it's really difficult to say without seeing when the results come in how many real votes there were, either in the last year's election or in this year's
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election. it does, however, seem that turnout was slightly lower. >> ifill: you mentioned fraud. what evidence have we seen this year of fraud, fake voting cards, proxy voting. >> yeah, fake voting cards was the story discussed most often in the afghan media and by voters in advance of the election. there were lots of stories about forged cards being produced in pakistan and in afghanistan. and we heard reports that this was true on election day as well. on the other hand, we wherd reports about people being arrested for having fake cards and that election workers were pushing-- turning people away. so i think that that is a story that is not as big as was feared. on the other hand we are hearing complaints about ballot box stuffing. which was a huge problem last year. and there is also complaints about intimidation. so obviously there was a lot of violence generally on election day but that people were squared away from the polls or were influenced to vote for certain candidates in areas that had poor security. i think that we won't really
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know the magnitude, however, of all of these fraud allegations until the iec releases the preliminary results and we understand from the ecc, the elections complaint commission, how many complaint these received and what they are doing to investigate it. >> ifill: you talk about these governmental wash dog group, the independent election commission, the electoral complaints commission, do we know they are poised to do something about these allegations, we heard about vote buying, something as outright as that. >> that's true. the independent elections commission which is responsible for administering the elections and tabulating the results was severely criticized last year for its roll in not preventing fraud and not addressing it after the election occurred. that has had some management changes at the top that i think are very positive. and there's a lot more optimistic that they will be more proactive, more transparent and more responsible in dealing with the fraud this time around. the election complaints commission used to have three international members of it, on which i was a part.
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that is now an all of began-led institution and we'll have to see how well they do in addressing complaints and responding to allegations that the iec does not address. >> ifill: let's assume for a moment they clear up all these allegations of fraud. after all is said and done what is the parliament's role in the era of hamid karzai, how much power does it have? >> that's really an interesting question. in the last year since the presidential election the parliament started taking some strong positions in opposition to some of karzai's appointments and some of his policies. and this was seen by many observers as a good thing. parliament had been considered quite weak before. and regardless of what one's politics are, it's important for afghanistan to have balanced government between the executive and legislative branch. so it remains to be seen from who gets elected whether there are significant members of what could be considered an opposition. there's no party system per
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se in afghanistan but an opposition grouping to karzai. if they are coherent, if they have a strong mandate because people think the election is credible, then i think they can play a much more active role in improving governance in afghanistan. if, however, there does turn out to be a significant amount of fraud or if characters that are seen by the public as being, having a bad reputation wind up winning i could see the parliament being considered weak and being less effective. >> ifill: scott worden in kabul, thanks a lot. >> twhau. >> lehrer: still to >> brown: still to come on the newshour, the shutdown of the b.p. well; the debate over genetically modified salmon; the power of sarah palin; and the murder of another journalist in juarez, mexico. but first, the other news of the day. here's kwame holman in our newsroom. >> holman: the u.s. recession officially ended back in june of 2009. the national bureau of economic research reported today the recession lasted 18 months.
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that makes it the country's longest downturn since world war ii. president obama took note of the finding during a town hall meeting in washington, broadcast on cnbc. . >> even though economists may say the recession observationly ended last year, obviously for the millions of people who are still out of work, people who have seen their home values decline, people who are struggling to pay the bills day-to-day, it's still very real for them. >> holman: the president also rebuffed claims his economic policies were "anti-business," and he repeated his opposition to keeping tax cuts for better- off americans. he said it would only make the deficit worse. and he added, "the first thing you do in a hole is not dig it deeper." on wall street, stocks rallied again, partly on hopes the federal reserve will take new actions to boost the recovery. the dow jones industrial average gained more than 145 points to close above 10,753.
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the nasdaq rose 40 points to close above 2355. the u.n. convened a world summit on poverty today, amid fresh appeals to help those most in need. leaders gathered in new york city amid warnings that "millennium development" goals will not be met. they were set ten years ago, with a target date of 2015. the goals range from cutting extreme poverty by half to reversing the aids pandemic. today the u.n.'s development chief sized up what's needed. >> it most definitely will require investing more in opportunities and in the rights of women and girls. it will require targeting investments and education and health, in clean water and sanitation, and attending to the needs of the urban poor including for adequate shelter. >> holman: u.n. secretary- general ban ki-moon insisted the goals are still attainable.
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french president nicolas sarkozy pledged to boost france's aid for poor countries by 20% over the next three years. he asked other developed nations to do the same. the f.b.i. investigated several anti-war and environmental groups after 9/11 for no good reason. the justice department's inspector general reported that today. he found "little or no basis" for domestic terror probes of greenpeace and the anti-war thomas merton center, among others. the report said f.b.i. officials misled director robert mueller and congress about the investigations. they were conducted between 2001 and 2006. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to jeff. >> brown: when reports first broke five months ago of an explosion and fire on an oil rig in the gulf of mexico, the initial word was that no substantial amount of oil was leaking. the rest, of course, is history. the nation's largest oil spill, a catastrophe that led to major environmental and economic damage along the gulf coast from florida to texas. b.p.'s macondo well was capped in mid-july, stopping the gusher. but it wasn't until yesterday,
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after cement was pumped in from a relief well, that government and b.p. officials said it was killed for good. retired coast guard admiral thad allen was the government's point man on response for the entire time. i spoke with him earlier. thad allen, welcome. >> brown: thank you. explain what's happened now the difference between the well-being capped and being effectively dead as you put it yesterday, what's happened? >> well, we effectively shutting the well on the 15th of july when we put the capping tack on-- stack on it. from that point on there were mo nor hydrocarbons released in the gulf but we had to permanently seal the well there always the threat of hurricane and ultimately you don't want any chance that any of the oil can get up from the reservoir to the surface. we cemented the drill pipe itself. what was les left was outside the drill pipe and the annual formation that required to us complete receipt leave well and cement it to the bottom. we did that this weekend. >> brown: effectively dead it means to a very high level of confidence in. >> it means there is no path for oil to get to the surface through that well. >> brown: is the well closed
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and off limits forever? is there a changes that b.p. or someone could come back to it? >> that would be a policy decision above my pay grade but what will happen next is something that is called plugging and abandonment. because they will eventually fill that well completely. we've completely cut it off so it can't leak right now. but under the supervision of the department of interior they will go through a more formal way to completely fill the well up. >> brown: now in response, the president said the government remains committed to, quote, doing everything possible to make sure the gulf coast recovers from this disaster. now sitting where you are now, in your mind, what are the most important things that still need be to don. >> well, there is still oil out there and there's oil in the marshs and around louisiana on the beaches, in mississippi, sometimes in alabama and florida still will have some come ashore. the next step is to completely clean up the beaches and marshs to the extent we can without harming them. there are some times where are you better off to life marsh alone rather than have mechanical means being brought in there and actually harm the marsh itself.
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we are actually negotiating how clean is clean with each state. >> brown: how clean is clean is a negotiation? >> that's a euphemism that we use at the end of an oil spill to say is there anything else we can do. and sometimes there will still be oil there but the agreement is that there can be no more technical mean as plyed to it and we agree that this is done as far as what we can do. >> brown: in terms of the great unknowns out there, when you say there is still oil out there, we still don't quite know how much oil, right? wnd and we don't know how much may have settled on the sea bed. >> we know a lot about what has come ashore. there is a lot of controversy, a lot of talk out there about what subsurface oil may exist. i have been working hard the last several weeks to try and unify the federal effor effort-- with nola to unify the federal effort as far as monitoring for subsea oil with a lot of the state and local academic institutions in florida, alabama, louisiana and mississippi to try and unify our data gathering so we can actually create a picture of what the gulf looks like and where the oil is at below it.
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>> brown: do you have any personal sense at this point about how much might be out there? i mean in the sea bed. >> i think there is a lot of conjecture. we have been taking data almost since the event started and we find background traces of oil and every once in a while we will find aggregations of small drop let its but it's usually in background or trace quantities. what we really need to find out are is whether or not there is oil say in the sediment, on the sea floor, out in the deep part of the gulf. and we're putting together a unify plan to deal with that right now. >> brown: looking back now, early on, of course, there was a sense that the government was too deferential to b.p.. they had the technology. we were told so, you had to work with them. there was this question of is it a partnership or who is in charge early on. what did you learn? what did you and the add learn about dealing in a case like this with a private company when they have the technology but you need to be in charge. >> well, there were a couple things that cost considerable angst to the
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country and i understand that. a lot of it passed in the wake of the exxon val derxz the oil pollution act of 1990 requires that the responsible party pay. and if are you going to have them writing the checks and making a decision on the command they need to be close by because you have to act in coordination that doesn't mean that your decision making is subordinated to them because you have an overall responsibility and accountability to oversee what is going on. are you right that the government does not own the means of production to drill for oil wells and the technology was used at the bottom of the ocean is very, very sophisticated in the hands of the private sector but we created a science team headed by the secretary of the department of energy and conducted oversight over the engineering decisions that 3r made and actually consulted with b.p. and at times if they rent going the way we wanted them to be i had to issue orders to say no, do this. >> brown: were there moments of great frustration for you? trying to make that happen? >> it wasn't great frustration because generally i think the engineers from b.p. and our science team all wanted to head the same direction it is just a different understanding from applied engineer for oil field engineers and some of the
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folks on the scenes science team that were trying to say have you exhausted the possibilities. in many ways the b.p. folks weren't used to working in that environment. but that's what government was there to do to make sure we are were asking questions and they were giving answers. >> brown: to this point do you think b.p. has done all they said they would do. >> my assessment of controlling the well after the discharge is they've done pretty good. the problem was there was no existing mechanism to produce oil and bring it to the surface in the gulf of mexico because it is all brought back ashore by piping systems. pipelines. they actually had to bring in production systems from the north sea and africa to develop that system that ultimately capped the well on the 15th of july. so from a technical standpoint in controlling the well, i can give them very high marks. as far as understanding and dealing with the local population, through a their party contractor with claims and things like that, they are a large oil production company. and dealing with people one-on-one and transactions, not a core competency or capacity they had in the company.
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and that is the lens by which most people in the country viewed their response. and i think that was the center of where their challenge was. >> brown: and what about another relationship was between the federal government and the states there were moments along the way of tension there. where they wanted to do something, you had to assess it, sometimes say no. did you learn anything because you've been through several important disasters now in your career, have you learned something about the federal state role in something like this? >> i think so i think we all found out that tip o'neill was really right, all the oil spills are really local. and the way you interact with the state or local municipality has to do with how they manage emergency operations and that varies by state. the real complicating factor was that most of the states and local municipalitys were used to dealing with us, the federal government and fema on hurricane response which basically provides grants to local government. and let them use the resources to do the response. and this one there is federal-- and the coordination is done through the federal government that didn't sit well with some of the local governments who
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were used to having the resources and being able to act freely it wasn't a matter we didn't want to cooperate, it was a matter of law. >> brown: has this all now as you are step ago way from this at this point, has this made you rethink the safety of drilling at depths like this? >> well, obviously we had a blowout preventer that failed to work as it was envisioned. i think we lacked response capability out there for dealing with the loss of well control at that depth. i think they had engineered a system now that could be the basis for response systems in the future. >> brown: you mean mean we've learned. >> we learned how to create a response system to an uncontrolled well at the bottom of the ocean. i don't think the response plans were built over the last 20 years that were anticipated this would happen and that was a failing. >> brown: but as you step away now what do you say to the people in the gulf. they are clearly going have to live with this for a long time. >> well, they are a very remarkable and resilient people. i found that out during the response to hurricane katrina but they had a lot of stuff laid at their door
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and i think we need to understand that long-term recovery should be the goal. they have a way of life that has been threatened down there. and long-term, cleanup of this oil, long-term recovery, making sure that the gulf is restored to the way it was before this event happened. those have to be primary goals for everybody. and it is a national asset we have down there. >> brown: retired coast guard admiral thad allen, thank you for joining us. >> thank you. >> ifill: next, the questions over whether to allow genetically engineered animals in the marketplace. margaret warner has the story. >> warner: for salmon lovers, the choice facing them at the supermarket is now fresh salmon or wild? but soon, there may be another option: salmon that have been genetically modified to grow faster. the food and drug administration is holding three days of hearings this week on whether to permit the new breed to be sold. though genetically modified crops are widely used in
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packaged foods, this salmon, if okayed, would be the first genetically modified animal approved for human consumption. today's f.d.a. advisory committee hearing pitted consumer and environmental advocates warning of potential dangers to the health of humans and wild fish against promoters like the c.e.o. of the massachusetts company aquabounty, which is seeking the approval. >> whether to require the genetically modified salmon to be labeled as such, for our own debate we turn to val giddings a biotechnology development to government and companies. former vice president to the biotechnology industry organization which is advocating aprafl. he has also advised aquabounty in the past, on unrelated matters. and michael hansen, senior scientist at consumers union, the publisher of "consumer reports." both men attended today's f.d.a. advisory hearing outside washington. he welcome to you both. we'll just pick up the
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debate where it left off. mr. giddings let me begin with you. why does this company and the industry want to genetically modify fish, particularly salmon? >> well, it provides a predictable and safe way of improving the supply of a healy and nutritious fish that we should all be eating more of. and it promises to deliver it through a production method that will reduce or eliminate all those concerns environmentalists have about hatch eries, fish rates and hatch eries or in sea pens. >> warner: but the advantage is what, the fish will going to grow bigger. >> it roops market size in half the time of conventionally farmed salmon. >> warner: so you can produce a lot more. >> you can produce them more quickly. >> warner: so mr. hansen what is the objection to that? it seems a laudable objective particularly when we are concerned about overpressure on the wild salmon population. >> well, the concern is just like with any other genetically engineered
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organism there could be a potential both health affects and adverse environmental affects associated with these fish. >> warner: and what health affect in particular? >> well, i should say that the data package that was submitted to the agency is very poor science and woefully inadequate. but there was data in there that looked at allergenicity that suggested there could be increased risk of increasing the allergic potential for these fish. and allergies can be a fatal, life threatening illness. >> warner: before we go any further let's briefly in a nutshell and i will start with you, mr. giddings. explain the science. how do you genetically modify a fish. i mean are you modifying the fish or the eggs. >> well, i do want to come back to the allergy issue. >> warner: then we will get to that. >> that is important to me. >> warner: just to help people understand what we are talking about here. >> this fish was created by inserting a sequence of dna into the egg of the parental fish from which all this line is descended.
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and that dna sequence , that was inserted is a combination of a gene that encodes for a growth hormone from a chinook salmon with an on switch that turns this gene on so, that it is expressed, taken from another fish. so everything that is put in here comes from fish that we're familiar with. and the result is a fish that in terms of its material composition is i dince ting wishable from wild or otherwise farmed salmon. >> warner: and when you say material composition, in other words, for someone buying it at the market does it look the same, taste the same, smell the same. >> well, the most likely difference anyone is likely to notice is that it will probably be of a higher quality. because the-- one of the advantages of the production system that is intended for this is that it will be able to be grown in much closer proximity to major population centers, in close circuit contained systems meaning that the time, the distance to travel to market will be far let's. >> warner: all right.
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how do you see, does the science and what the resultsing product is. >> well, one simple thing with the science, the fda themselves said that one of the potential risk issues surround some of the hormone-like compounds that are in this fish. so particularly for this chinook salmon growth hormone that they put into these fish, the method they used to test the fish was so insensitive that when they looked at 73 fish that they tested, they couldn't detect the growth hormone in any of them some that means zero data and they conclude from that there is no biologically significant difference between the fish in terms of growth hormone level. well, if you don't have any data you don't know. and the second hormone that they looked at again, the fish that they want to sell on the market, they couldn't detect it at all. so when with you use insensitive methods and you can't detect anything you can't conclude that it is safe or there is no problem because you don't know what with the differences are. >> warner: so back to the potential for allergic
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reaction, mr. giddings. how can the company say or the fda assess whether or not there is a danger either in too much growth hormone in this fish or other allergic potential ingredients. >> there are a variety of techniques that you can use. but they all involve the state of the art analytical methods which in this case have been used. on the allergenicity issue it is tough to hear activists raise this as a concern. my son has a life threatening food allergy. i'm particularly interested in this issue. most folks are not a leverage you can to salmon. though a small number of people who are it is a serious problem. and those people should not eat this salmon just as they should not eat any other salmon. but folks, but most folks can eat this salmon being confident that they are no more likely to causaler gees to them than others because there is nothing that has been added that would increase the allerginicity profile, there are no novel proteins with which we are unfamiliar.
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the issue of a potential allergy risk here is completely made up. it's not real and it's to the going to happen. >> warner: let's talk about the ore issue, if you don't mind, opponents have raised which is could it somehow infect the wild salmon population. >> well, the concern over it infecting the wild population is if it escaped, the problem is they're only looking at two facilities right now in two countries outside the u.s. so the concern that an environmentalists have is what if down the road they're selling this and people are growing it in all sorts of different countries or in different parts of the u.s. they've only done an environmental assessment for one facility. not for -- >> but the danger is what? >> the danger is if the fish gets out, it's a lot more aggressive. it feeds pore. it could outcompete not only salmon but any other local native fish that are in
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there. because these engineered fish they actually not only feed more, but they search in many different places more than the regular salmon. so that could have an impact. >> warner: are you shaking your head. >> these fish do not know how to hunt for food in the wild. they are trained to eat food pellets. when they see a shadow on the surface of the water they rise to it because they have associated that with the imminent arrival of lunch. wild efficiency a shadow they head for the deep because they know that could be a predator. these fish are sterile. they are reproducedively imcompetent. if they were grown there sea pens it would represent a substantial improvement over the status quo because they can't mate. >> warner: by sea pens you mean they are in the sea. >> conventionally farm salmoned are group now. if these were group that way they would represent a substantial reduction in the potential hazard because they are sterile. these were designed to be grown and account for permission from fda stipulate that they would be grown in closed circuit contained systems with a whole nested series of biological and physical
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containment measures to make sure that they won't get out but even if they did, it wouldn't matter. >> warner: what do you say to that? >> well, what was, what fda said at the hearing today when questions were raised about these other countries like panama where one of the facilities is what the fda said is well, the impact in the local country, they're sovereign countries. it's up for them to make a decision. >> warner: but setting aside what country it is in, is it true that they are going to be grown only in these enclosed pens, not attached to any other body of watter? >> well, for the one facility that is down in panama that is correct but i would also like to point out that to produce these fish you have to have-- to produce the sterile females you have to have engineered, sort of, reproductively active fish. they could potentially get out and then there is the concern there because you would have fertile fish. they also point out that only five percent, that up to five percent of thee fish could not be sterile. >> warner: we have less than
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a minute left, really quickly. if this is approved, does it open the door to other genetically modified, i will begin with you, mr. hansen, i will begin with you, mr. giddings. other genetically modified beef, pork, other animals. >> if this is approved it will demonstrate that there is a functional regulatory system that is able to look at the data and make a reasoned science-based decision based on the data. we would hope that that would lead to further applications but they will require their own separate and unique examinations from fda and approving this does not provide a rubber stamp for approving anything that might follow. >> warner: mr. hansen. >> yes there are other engineered animals in the pipeline there are pigs and other things in the pipeline this will help set the standard in a way of what is to come. and the concern we have is the scientific what the fda is doing is we think the science bar should be set very high and they are setting it about an inch off the floor. >> warner: and really briefly, you want these, this fish labeled and dow not. >> that's correct. >> i think that consumers are entitled to labels that
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are accurate, informative and not misleading and i would hope that any label that is put on this fish meets those criteria. >> warner: we'll have to leave it there for another evening. thank you both very much. >> thank you,. >> thank you >> ifill: former vice presidential candidate sarah palin has been rallying her supporters to help republican candidates across the country this year. our judy woodruff checks in on palin's latest political moves and what they may tell us about her future. >> reporter: while a debate simmers on over whether sarah palin's presence in this year's republican primarys have helped or hurt the party, there can be no doubt she has played a pivotal role in shaping the 2010 gop field. palin's clout was on display just last week as two of her preferred u.s. senate choices christine o'donnell in
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delaware and kelly aot in new hampshire both won their primary contest. o'donnell's victory came at the expense of veteran congressman mike cassell who had been heavily favored by the party establishment. palin's support for o'donnell included recording a reason robo phone call to help get out the vote. >> hi, this governor sarah palin. vote for christine o'donnell for u.s. senate. >> palin has also made effective use of social media platforms such as twitter and facebook, to announce endorsements or comment on current events. and palin released an internet video erlier this summer, titled mama grizzly. her term for conservative women candidates she's endorsed this year. >> here in alaska i always think of the mama grizzly bear, that rides up on her behind legs when somebody's coming to attack their cubs. to do something adverse toward their cubs. she thought pit bulls were tough, well you don't want
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to mess with the mama grizzlys. >> according to an analysis by "the washington post," palin has endorsed 43 candidates in primaries this year. the breakdown, 25 win, 11 losses, and 7 races where there was no primary. palin's efforts to aid candidates in 2010 has fueled speculation she might be eyeing a bid for president in 2012. that idea gained steam over the weekend after palin spoke friday at a closely watched republican party fund-raiser in iowa. a key early caucus state. mindful of the buzz around her palin quipped that earlier in the day her husband todd had advised her not to go for a run outside. >> i said why would i want to stay indoors. todd says, because i guarantee you, if anybody spots you in the tennis shoes, the headline's going to be, "vanity fair", they're going to say, palin
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in iowa decides to run. >> reporter: and while that headline might not be far off, palin admits for now her focus is on electing strong conservative leaders this november. for more on sarah palin's political we are joined by libby casey washington correspondent for alaska public radio network and jeff zeleny national political correspondent for "the new york times". thank you both for being here. jeff zeleny, i will start with you. you have been watching these campaigns. how would you describe the effect that sarah palin has on the 2010 races so far? >> well, this is, it is a pretty big effect. i mean for the first time really in her political career she is acting on her own. she is not john mccain's side kick. she is the front, she is like leading the charge in endorsing some of these candidates. and really bringing them to the fore. we've never heard of anythingy hailey before. the republican nominee for governor in south carolina. sarah pillin put her on the map. so really across the country
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there are candidates who owe their political careers and futures to her. she's lost several races or her, the people who she has endorsed have lost some races but more than that recently, she's won a lot of them. and she really has taken on the republican establishment in washington, the leaders of the party committees in several cases, endorsed, you know, an insurgent candidate if you will. and she emerges out of this as something of a kingmaker. >> woodruff: libby casey, how does she decide who swhe is going to endorse. >> we try to read the tea leaves to see how she makes these decisions and the timing of the decisions as well as some the more unusual unorthodox ways that she makes the announcement. for example with terry brantad who is runing are for governor in iowa, more of a face pick t is good to have the future governor of iowa in your camp if you have any president 58 as pris operations but there a quirky story about how she called the campaign office. couldn't get them on the phone. he ended up finding out from an aide without saw her endorsement on facebook.
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so it's not always an orthodox method. and then her picks are kind of across-the-board. very many tea party candidates, of course. but there have been-- . >> woodruff: not all. >> absolutely, john mccain, a loyalty pick. there are others i mentioned terry brantad in iowa, not a tea party guy. and the tea party has come out, tea party sort of supporters, there is no official tea party mantle but those who are part of the group have come out on her facebook page and been up set at some of her endorsements. but it adds to her maverick tendency, she's not following a script and i think she likes the fact that she can mix things up and surprise us. when she makes a pick that not a tea party it surprises the media just as muchs and we pay equal attention. >> woodruff: why are we paying attention, we are all trying to get at this mysterious factor. what is the appeal here. what is it about sarah palin? >> it a great question. and really, everything she does get as tension now. she's the only political figure who i can think of. she sends out a tweet, a facebook message and it gets broadcast or reported.
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there is no one else who has that type of ability. so i think the underlying thing is here we're all waiting to see what her next act is going to be. there are very few people who have emerged in such quick fashion and who have galvanized even though her audience is not widespread, she has a really enthusiastic sort of mediam-- medium sized audience and we are waiting to see what she is going to do. if tomorrow she was going to announce i'm not going run for president in 2012, i'm going to, you know, be active in politics and write another book. i'm not sure we would follow her quite as much. but that is what this is all building to. is sarah palin going to collide with the republican establishment and you know, and who is going to win in that. so i think everything she does, you flow, we are trying to see how it fits into the larger picture of is she or is she not going to run for president. >> woodruff: i want to ask about that collision with the republican establishment. as somebody who watched her since she ran for governor, how do you describe her appeal, what is it about her
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that has everybody in the media hang on every tweet? >> she has a lot of star power. we can't dismiss that. we joke about the fact that bristol palin is going to be on dancing with the stars tonight. sarah palin is likely to be in the audience which has been reported. and that may seem like a trivial matter but it going to be in every american home across the country. so she has been able to cross over the serious political discussion but also appeal to people on a very human level. i went to glenn beck's recently rally in washington to cover that and i talked to a lot of people there who talked about the fact they just feel like she's a normal person. she has a complicated family dynamic. she doesn't always say the right things. the media sort of scoffs when she mixes up repute yate and r refute on quiter and the blogo sphere go wild. but she has come at a perfect time. her no holds bar mama grizzly my way or the highway t resonated in alaska when she ran for governor in a way that was a little surprising but it is perfect timing. >> woodruff: but as you
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suggested a minute ago not everybody is thrilled with what she is doing. what about the republican establishment. are they truly waiting for her to make a decision? >> well, in many respects what her decision does will impact what happens with the rest of the field. i mean if she holds off and does not make a decision for several months, how is that going to impact who gets in and who is not getting in. really we're just not that far away from it. some seven weeks after-- immediately after the midterm elections. some of these potential candidates will begin making up their mind. if she holds off t changes the calculation for everyone. but in iowa on friday night i was watching the audience as much as i was watching her. >> you were there. >> i was there watching her speak. her speech was generally the same one she delivers across the country. many 69 republican activists had heard it before. she criticizes the media. she urges the republican establishment, she mentioned karl rove by name, come along, support some of these candidates. she praised the tea party movement. silence in the room because these are are the republican establishment people.
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so she won't really have an interesting line to walk if she decides to go forward. will she go through the traditional process of the iowa caucuses, the new hampshire primary, or will she try this a different way. and if she trys it a different way, there are risks in that. we have seen other candidates sort of not, you know, come face-to-face. a lot of activists said if she is going to run she needs to take questions from us. she needs to get off this scripted stage. so we'll see what she does. but right now i'm convinced she has not made up her mind. >> woodruff: you were saying she didn't follow the traditional route of meeting with party leaders or at least having a conversation with them. libbey-- libby what about that unconventional approach. has that characterized her entire political career? >> i think it has to a degree but that stepped up since the b.p. run. just the way she has been able to control her message by choosing to use social media. a lot of candidates talk
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about using social media but sarah palin does it effectively. what she writes on facebook gets spread around. she doesn't overexpose herself or make herself available to a lot of reports, doesn't answer a lot of questions. so she has been able to control her message effectively. but if she wants to make friends in iowa and get the establishment there behind her, she's going have to do a lot more of the door-to-door, go to the meetings, spend time over cups of coffee. she is very personable. you know, when you have a moment to talk to her and back in alaska before she made the move to the national stage, she was the kind of person you would see in the grocery store. so she has that personable ability. the question does she really want to embark on that. and get messy. she is going to have to take questions and have a conversation. >> woodruff: jeff, how much does the outcome in this november affect how influential she'll be going forward in 2012. i mean if her candidate does well, obviously that helpsment but if they didn't, what would that mean? >> i think it i will play some bit of an effect. say if six weeks from now
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that the democrats manage to hold the house and hold the senate and have a better year than expected, i think we'll all be asking ourselves what is this sort of tea party movement, what you ever. but more likely it will be a strong republican year in some respects. so she will likely be able to find some winners in this vast, some 43 endorsements she's made across the country. so i think she emerges from november in a stronger position regardless. the question is what does she decide to do with it i thought one thing was very interesting. as she walked off the stage on friday night in iowa, she doesn't do a lot of interviews. so i really rushed the stage, to ask her a question and we said when are you going to make your decision to run. she said i have no time line but she said one thing pretty interesting. even without way title, you can still make a big impact. so definitely leaving the door open to not running. >> woodruff: and leaving the door half shut. >> and not letting-- she may have a lot of power in playing the role of kingmaker or queen maker to come. >> woodruff: you can bet
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we're going to be watching. and so are a lot of other folks, libby casey, jeff zeleny, thank you. >> thank you. >> ifill: finally tonight, intimidation and the drug war in mexico. ray suarez has the story. >> suarez: the appeal to the drug cartels from the major newspaper in juarez was dramatic. "what do they want from us?" asked the front page editorial in "el diario." that editorial and an open letter from the newspaper's reporters came three days after a young photographer, luis carlos santiago, was killed and an intern seriously wounded as they were walking to lunch outside "el diario's" offices. santiago was the second journalist from the paper to be killed. declaring the cartels the de facto authority in the city, the paper asked for guidance on what to publish and not publish. the editorial put into words what is already practiced among some mexican news organizations in areas where the drug war is most intense.
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nearly 29,000, including 30 journalists, have died in the past four years. the death toll in ciudad juarez, on the texas border, is more than 6,000. for more, we go to angela kocherga, the mexico bureau chief for belo television. angela, a dramatic thing in any case but certainly on the front page of the newspaper it is impossible to do our job in these conditions. what kind of attention is that getting? >> well, ray, this really has stunned much of mexico. as you pointed out a long the border that really is the common practice. this self-censorship to survive. basically what they did was spell out what is already helping in many fuss rooms in these conflict zones where powerful drug cartels really are in charge of the coverage. they ask what can we print what can we not print and how to do we keep our reporters and photographers safe. mexico is stunned because it pointed out that they said
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that these cartels are, in fact, the de facto authority in this region. >> suarez: were they really asking for instructions from the cartels or was this more of a dramatic device, a rhetorical device to illustrate the danger of the situation for their journalists. >> i think both. we talked to the assistant editor of the newspaper and he said yes, they really were directing this comment to the mexican drug cartels fighting over these key smuggling routes to texas and the rest of the u.s. but he said also that they wanted to send a message to mexico as a whole to show how desperate the situation is. and really plea for help in this situation is really kind of a drug war zone where even as they point out in regular drug-- in wars, conflicts you have protection for journalists and that is definitely not the case here in mexico. so they said this is not a publicity stunt. that they really are serious about this message. >> suarez: let's talk more about what is going on in the rest of the country. journalists have been killed in other places.
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is this sort of self-censorship going on in the other conflict citys? >> you do see this especially along the border in other states like mix ichoucan it is so bad when they were running gun battles board esching texas citizens had no way to confirm what was go on. they resorted to social median, facebook, twitter, to tell each other stay off this street or keep your children home from school. so self-censorship really is a survivalist school for journalists. a few years ago another mexican newspaper took out a front page editorial and said we will no longer cover the drug war. we are going remain silent because it is the only way to protect our reporters and photographers that came after that newsroom suffered a grenade attack from drug cartels. this is a reality throughout mexico. >> suarez: this decollaration this open letter to the drug cartels was really dramatic in it's anger, in its use of language. we don't want more dead.
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we don't want more injured or more intimidation. but it was also very tough on the mexican government saying it had provided almost no protection from media workers. has there been any response from the government to this dramatic open letter? >> we did this afternoon hear from a spokesman with president calderon's administration saying they offered their condolences to the newspaper paper for the photographer who died and the other who was injured in the attack but the spokesman also condemned this editorial saying that by no means does, is there any reason for any group especially a newspaper to try and negotiate with criminals or try and form some sort of truce. the government said they are the authority and the newspaper should be dealing with the authority which is the mexican government. the assistant editor of the paper said to me that well, if they are the authority they need to demonstrate that with actions here in juarez. >> suarez: and there's no
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question that these attacks are intentional. that the 30 reporters and media worker was have been killed were the target of these attacks rather than just collateral damage in the violence that's gripping some of these citys? >> they, these cases continue to be under investigation. and you do often see that some doubt cast by the state investigators on the journalists' role where they were they really attacked because they were doing something in their line of duty and their jobs or was it some sort of personal situation. so you do see some effort sometimes to kind of cast these victims in a negative light. so the problem with many of these cases and throughout mexico is that they often go unsolved and unpunished so we often don't know the real facts of the case and that is the situation. and this murder as well, ray. >> suarez: you have traveled frequently from the mexican capitol to the border region and back, ciudad juarez has gotten a lot of attention in the last few years but is more of the country, is even
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the capitol becoming more like juarez rather than the other way around? >> you do see more murders spreading throughout mexico. i mean even through some of these narco banners in mexico city saying we're here. we're threatening authorities, right outside of mexico city we had four bodies hanging in the city, a very popular place for americans, a lot of americans retired there. kind of a beautiful city but now at the heart of the drug war. cities like cancun we heard last week, a possible attempt, foiled by the government with a narco group staging an attack to try and break some other people out of prison. so i mean this thing by no means is mexico a failed state but there are these pockets of lawlessness and a growing concern away from the border that these powerful drug cartels are are having an impact in other parts of the country. >> suarez: angela kocherga, thanks for joining us. >> thank you, ray. >> brown: and again the major developments of the day, afghan election
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observers called for an independent investigation of saturday's parliamentary vote after claims of rampant fraud. and a research group that tracks the economy reported the recession ended back and the national bureau of economic research reported the u.s. recession officially ended back in june of 2009. that made it the longest downturn since world war ii. and to kwame holman in our newsroom, for what's on the newshour online. kwame? >> holman: on the political checklist, david chalian talks to gwen and judy about sarah palin in iowa and president obama's town hall meeting today. watch the video on our new politics page. on patchwork nation, we look at congressional districts this midterm election season. midterm election season. tonight find a map tracking foreclosures nationwide plus analysis of how housing troubles may affect voters in november. plus, now that the b.p. oil well is officially sealed, we turn to the brewing environmental and legal fights. we round up a list of issues to watch on the rundown. all that and more is on our web site,
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>> ifill: and that's the newshour for tonight. on tuesday, we'll look at tennessee's plan to reward teachers when students perform well. i'm gwen ifill. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening. thank you, and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations.
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and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions captioned by media access group at wgbh
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